[NAFEX] Fruit in Tibet

John McCuan wawo at yahoo.com
Sat Sep 9 15:00:26 EDT 2006

Dear Mark,
  The minority people in Tibet are fascinating; I'm sure you're learning many new things.
  I've been thinking about what you wrote, that the Nuosu Yi have no  fruit in their diet.  Are these people who have gotten away from  their traditional way of life, and are living in villages eating  Chinese food trucked in from China proper, namely white rice, cabbage,  and tofu?  
  Have you talked to any of the old people among the group you're working  with?  I know that the Chinese eat all sorts of obscure berries  and little fruits, some cultivated, some gathered from the wild.   The Nuosi Yi may also have some such traditional  fruit, or did in  the past.  Also, you may also want to inquire among the other  minority groups in the area.  Googling for "native fruit in Tibet"  I found a reference to Lycium barbarum, known as Tibetan Goji berry,  touted for anti-inflammatory properties.  Apparently that berry  has been wild harvested for generations, while two other Lyciums are  cultivated in China, one in Ningxia and the other in Xinjiang.
  I don't know if you've spent much time researching what fruit may  already be growing, or has grown, in the region.  If you can  already speak the Nuosu Yi language, great; if Mandarin, it shouldn't  be too hard to find a translator.  If not, you could probably find  a Chinese student who knows English who can figure out a way to help  you interview people.  There are a number of young Chinese  anthropologists who are very interested in minority people, and I know  some genuinely want to help them.  Recently there was a conference  in Yunnan on Indigenous Development and Modernisation, you might want  to look at the website for that  (www.uottawa.ca/conferences/yunnan/index.html) and see if any  participants may be in your region.
  It may be fairly easy to bring a wild fruiting plant into cultivation.
  I wish you success in your venture; it sounds fascinating.  
  Best regards,
  Melinda McCuan

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